Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Return

Not so many seasons ago, when the kids were much younger, I would turn to blank pages and write until I had sifted my thoughts and funnelled them down to some basic realizations. Most of the time, this was an exercise in aligning expectations with reality: if I set the bar and low and aimed just to keep the kids' diapers changed and their bellies fed, I could discount the rest of the day's missteps and file it away as a win. I would balance my priorities and become reacquainted with the idea that I could be a much better version of myself if I could just settle down. Settle any grandiose ideas of keeping a freelance writing career current and relevant when i am home with kids that don't nap. Settle expectations that I "should" be able to get everyone to the library story time and sit through it without anyone crying. Settle to-do lists by reducing them from 20 items to two.

I can read back blog posts that chronicle this return to simple goals, and recognize a woman with good intentions, but perilously high standards. I still am, but I am working on this. With three kids in school and one at home with me for our victory lap, I have often berated myself for complaining about things being difficult with "just one" kid at home. But in truth, sometimes our days are hard. I have put mounting pressure on myself to approach next fall with a solid game plan about a future job, what I will earn, and how important it will be. Right now, though, I am tapping into the wisdom I tried to cultivate before. I need reminders to slow down, take things one step at a time, be patient, lower the bar, and be present for the last months as a mama home with my girls. Not wish it away.

I realize that when I approach little Summer with a book to read, her curled in my lap, me sipping a cup of tea, I am at my best. I recognize Abby's furrowed brow and atypical quietness at dinner and know to make time to talk to her, away from the others, for as long as she needs. I see Rich grimace from the pain of a concussion headache and I know to gently corral the kids outside to play so the house will be quiet for him for the next few moments. When I am busy trying to get things done and arrange my ducks in a row, my focus is narrowed and I miss seeing these things. This is my work, and it is important, and I am earning their trust and faith. 

Beet seedlings
So, for this season at least, I am returning to the expectation level and priority sequence of having young kids at home. For review, that means: lots of unscheduled time outside, meal planning healthy dinners, sleeping eight hour nights, drinking more water and tea, spending less time checking my phone/computer, setting time aside for self-care (running, reading, showering), couch dates with Rich, and stopping what I am doing to look at those girls' beautiful blue eyes when they have something to say.

Our makeshift nursery on the counter tops

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